Trades have become increasingly difficult to make in this era of the National Hockey League with numerous budget-conscious teams and many teams operating at the salary cap ceiling. Those facing ownership uncertainty include the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars and those spending to the cap ceiling include the Vancouver Canucks, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers.
Unable to make trades and teams with their hands strapped by lifetime contracts, the head coach has become the scapegoat for a team's troubles.
Lindy Ruff is the longest tenured coach in the NHL, having been with the Buffalo Sabres since 1997. The next longest tenured is Barry Trotz who has been behind the bench of the Nashville Predators since 1998.
After that there is a tie between the Detroit Red Wings' Mike Babcock and Anaheim Ducks' Randy Carlyle who have been with their teams since 2005.
Teams have become growingly less reluctant to fire their head coaches after the Pittsburgh Penguins fired head coach Michel Therrien, who guided the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals that past spring, with 25 games remaining in the regular season. Dan Bylsma, at 39 years old and with no prior head coaching experience at any level, would take over the team on an interim basis and lead them to a 18-3-4 record to finish the regular season and a Stanley Cup victory.
It is also worth noting that Stanley Cup-winning coaches since the the NHL lockout have not been with their respective teams for longer than three years.
Joel Quenneville was in his second year with the Chicago Blackhawks when they won in 2010. Bylsma was in his first year with Pittsburgh in 2009. Babcock was in his third year with Detroit in 2008. Carlyle was in his second year with Anaheim in 2007. Peter Laviolette was in his second season with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
It has also been proven that changing head coaches midway through the season is a season changer.
Bruce Boudreau inherited the last place, 6-14-1 Washington Capitals in November 2007 and turned their entire season around. He compiled a 37-17-7 record en route to a Southeast Division crown and a Jack Adams Trophy win as the league's top coach.
Paul Maurice took over the 12-11-2 Carolina Hurricanes in December 2008 and guided the team to the Eastern Conference finals while compiling a 33-19-5 record.
Which five National Hockey League head coaches do I think could be at risk of being fired? Read on to find out.